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April 23, 2014

Meet a Community Art Star: Katrina Ellis

"Meet a Community Art Star" is a regular feature showcasing ArtStarts' amazing group of volunteers who are passionate, enthusiastic arts champions. Read more posts in this series.


Katrina Ellis graduated from Emily Carr two years ago with a bachelor in fine art, concentrating on painting as her main medium. In conversation with her, we begin to realize that her interest within her art practice has more to do with the art process and less about the art product. We started our conversation with Katrina about where in her life art started—and ended with why she still does it.

ArtStarts: Where did art start for you?

Katrina: I guess at home. My mom was a crazy crafter: quilter, knitter, sewer, everything. We did lots of projects at home. In grade 6, I had a teacher who was really interested in my art and really pushed me to make art and I felt like I had something that I was really good at. For the first time I had something that I really identified with. I think it was a way to come into an identity for myself.

ArtStarts: In September, you'll be starting school again?

Katrina: I am studying to teach high school with an art specialization at UBC.

ArtStarts: Is there anything you're really excited to start teaching?

Katrina: Well, I haven't started planning lesson plans just yet. I haven't even started.  But there's a project (Calendario) in Timescapes that I'm really excited about. These kids sheared the sheep, they prepared the wool and using this felting technique, they created this massive calendar that demonstrated all of the seasons. The process of making the blanket and thinking about the sheep too, that's amazing.

ArtStarts: Why do you want to teach art?

Katrina: I thought a lot about what I want to do. My best friend is a social worker and I always admire what she does. Teaching is being on the ground floor and helping people. I wasn't really interested in working in galleries. I like the idea of being involved in helping shape the minds of young people. Also, very few kids hate their art class; it's not like PE, you know?

ArtStarts: Why do think young people like art class?

Katrina: Maybe because it's easy. Also, because you get to be imaginative and free and make work with your hands. I didn't really do much art in high school, but I had a good friend who was an active painter and I was always excited to see what she was doing. After high school there was a program at a school in Prince George. There were only 6 of us that got in.  The lady that taught it was amazing and so excited about art. She made me excited about art too and that's when I really realized that I want to make art.

ArtStarts: What was your time at art school like?

Katrina: I moved to Vancouver 5 years ago to go to Emily Carr. I like being immersed in a community of artists. That was probably the best part for me. I also like that it pushed my understanding of what art can be or what an artist can be. And I don't think I would've ever gotten that breadth of understanding without having gone to Emily Carr.

ArtStarts: What was your Emily Carr application portfolio like?

Katrina: It was so cheesy. I don't wanna talk about it. I don't even know how I got in. I made a fake crate and you pull out the sleeves, and they're like records and each "record" was a painting. It was so cheeseball. It was hideous.

ArtStarts: In your everyday, what do you do to constantly connect yourself to creativity?

Katrina: I find that when I'm not engaging in creative activities that I'm less satisfied with my overall being. It's productive to me when I'm making something I'm interested in and proud of. I like engaging with behavior that's more involved as opposed to passive activities like watching TV. When I'm actually making something, it makes me feel really good, really healthy and really active. It makes me feel alive.

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